Procurement – Friend or Foe (Part I)
Amongst senior sales professionals, the word “procurement” typically brings an emotive response, usually in the negative. There are two reasons for this;
1. Sales professionals do not understand the role of procurement within their organisation and the internal challenges that procurement face with their own business stakeholders.
2. There is a great variance in the professional capability of procurement professionals in the Irish market in particular and a lack of awareness amongst senior sales professionals how to recognise the role procurement managers play within the target organisation. This is a contentious point but a very valid one.
On the first point, it is important to understand that procurement grapple with an ongoing challenge to prove their personal value to the business. From experience I advocate engaging with Procurement at the outset as a very useful strategy. This is because capable procurement managers will always look for new innovative ways from suppliers to bring enhanced value to the business (and budget holders). They are primarily compensated on cost savings but delivering increased value and lower cost on a sustained basis is what maintains and increases their value to the business.
On the second point, bear in mind that procurement managers are not all the same. Some procurement managers are only brought in at the end of the sales cycle as a matter of policy to extract lower pricing from you and it is important to recognise these tactical practices. As a general rule the level of sophistication of procurement usually drives how early the business get them involved. By engaging early in the sales cycle with procurement or even when there is no sales cycle in place, this enables you to decide on the most appropriate sales strategy to adopt with Procurement.
There are different approaches and strategies I have adopted over time to ensure the most successful outcome, but the main advice I would give is to clearly understand the role procurement play within their organisation as early as possible in the sales cycle. You may be surprised to know that procurement can be of assistance in some organisations to position new solutions to the business.